Skip to main content

Television Want to shoot a movie guerrilla-style in a new city? The top 10 tips the Whatever, Linda team learned on location

Meet Hannah and Mackenzie, two women standing at the intersection of legacy media and new tech, making 'Internet odysseys,' like their new Web series Whatever, Linda, alongside TV and films. In the coming months, they’ll take Globe readers on a journey about what it's like to be 'upcoming' in a business that won't stop changing.

We shot the exteriors for Whatever, Linda with a crew of two on the streets of New York and Brooklyn. And in similar fashion, we’ve recently returned from shooting the first leg of our feature film, The Definites, which is centred around the annual Art Basel festival in Miami. Here, then, is a list of 10 tips so that you too can shoot a film guerrilla-style in a city you've never visited! Aberrant Pictures: Where shooting awesome locations in unfamiliar territory is a rite of passage…

Aberrant Pictures made half a feature. And we aren't happy about it at all. #miami #thedefinites #takeusback #ArtBaselMiami #artbasel #southbeach #summer #producers #guerrillafilm

A photo posted by Mackenzie Grace (@mackiegd) on

1) Start your network of contacts in said city as soon as possible from afar, making contact via e-introductions and cold calls all while still at home. This goes for confirming camera crews, makeup people, locations, equipment, places to stay and so on. In short: Find local friends.

2) Assemble a small, kick-ass team of crew and talent. Be as lean as possible, even if it means your amazing director of photography doubles as gaffer or your sound guy also clocks continuity.

3) Use FaceTime and Skype to rehearse scenes and finesse scripts with talent who live in far-flung places.

What a night! #thedefinites #artbaselmiami @hannahshazaam @redheadinthecity

A photo posted by Brittany Allen (@britt_audrey_allen) on

4) Do not carry a camera on “sticks” (a tripod in everyday parlance) because once that camera touches the ground you make yourself obvious and immovable – and this can mean trouble. Whenever possible, forego the big boom mic for more discrete lavaliers which can be hidden in an actor’s clothing. Again, less is more.

5) On location, always send in the cutest, most charming girl or guy to ask permission for something, anything, oh please God just get permission. These go along way.

6) When asking someone impromptu, be polite, be thankful, be engaging, introduce yourself, shake hands, remember their name, be genuine, get their contact info and send a follow-up thank you (travelling with Canadian presents like maple syrup goes a long way). Most people are pretty star-struck by the notion of your filming anything, even if it’s a yet-unfunded film that may very well gross in the negative numbers.

And that's a wrap on Miami. Time to take off. #thedefinites #miami #artbasel #ArtBaselMiami #guerrillafilm

A photo posted by Mackenzie Grace (@mackiegd) on

7) Use Google Street View to scout locations, then follow up in-person immediately on arrival. Locations you get or don’t get will change what you can shoot, how you can shoot and for how long. Be prepared to rescript if necessary. Flexibility is a must.

8) Send women’s clothing in a suitcase accompanying a woman; it definitely looks questionable when your male director has a massive suitcase full of high heels, dresses and sheer tights. Barring that, have him pluck his eyebrows and learn a Barbra Streisand song beforehand.

9) Make sure there are enough beds for bodies before you arrive at your destination. When you’re asking a crew to work for nothing but don’t give them a proper resting place, you’re asking for a mutiny.

10a) Stay positive, and if you’re drowning in doubt, fake it ‘til you make it – especially the moment your team converges for the first time. People have to feel that you, at the very least, know what ‘s going on (even if you don’t). And while we’re at it…

Standing next to the TRUTH and that guys in the white shirt #artbasel #TheDefinites #filmmaking #MIAMI #ABM

A photo posted by Hannah Cheesman (@hannahshazaam) on

10b) Be flexible, and be confident in that flexibility. Everything won’t go wrong, but some things will go very, very wrong.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.